Since 1992, the Uncommon Friends Foundation has worked to preserve the historic Burroughs Home. Built in 1901, the house became a cultural centerpiece of Florida’s Fort Myers River District. Its owner, Nelson T. Burroughs, enjoyed a lifelong friendship with Uncommon Friends founder Jim Newton and welcomed a variety of prominent guests to his now-historic home, including Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. In honor of this camaraderie, Thomas Edison began a paved walkway on the grounds of the Burroughs Home to commemorate the lives of his friends.
The Uncommon Friends Foundation recently continued this tradition, establishing the Walk of Friendship. Supporters may purchase paved stones to honor both individuals and organizations, creating an enduring reminder of their significance. The stones will serve as a walkway leading to the Gaile McBride Pavilion, a new meeting space adjacent to the Burroughs Home. Funded by generous donations to the foundation, the pavilion will host various cultural events, character education classes, and additional activities in line with the goals of the Uncommon Friends Foundation.
Dedicated to teaching young people and business leaders about ethical conduct, the Uncommon Friends Foundation at the Burroughs Home & Gardens relies on its extensive network of volunteers. Here is a quick look at three Uncommon Friends Foundation committees with volunteer opportunities.
Finance Committee: Responsible for creating the UFF annual budget, the Finance Committee meets monthly and presents its budgets for approval by the board of directors. The committee also oversees fund-raising activity and develops ways to increase the organization’s endowment fund.
Education Committee: Tasked with maintaining the educational curriculum of the foundation, the Education Committee organizes teacher training workshops and seminars, discusses trends in character education, and selects recipients for the Annual Character Education Awards.
Marketing/PR & Membership Committee: The Marketing/PR & Membership Committee communicates with current members and recruits new members. In addition to publishing the Hello Friends newsletter, the committee handles all media relations and public outreach efforts.
The Walk of Friendship at the Burroughs Home in Florida allows donors to honor or memorialize individuals, organizations, and companies with paved stones customized with a message. These stones will serve as the walkway into the future pavilion directly next to the Burroughs Home. Funded by the McBride family, the pavilion will serve as a space for events, meetings, classes, and cultural events.
The idea for the Walk of Friendship originated with Thomas Edison, who created similar walkways in Fort Myers Beach in the 1920s in honor of Henry Ford and Jim Newton. Individuals can follow in Edison’s footsteps by purchasing stones for the walkway to honor people or entities that have contributed to the community over the years. All proceeds from the sale of the stones will go to support character education coursework that will take place at the new pavilion.
For the past two decades, the Uncommon Friends Foundation has worked to preserve the historic Burroughs Home in Fort Myers, Florida. The nonprofit derives its name from the writings of James D. Newton, a 20th-century Florida entrepreneur, who enjoyed a lifelong friendship with such visionaries as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Charles Lindbergh. Newton referred to these noteworthy pioneers as his “Uncommon Friends” in his personal writings, and he eventually authored a book under the same title. Letters from these men comprise the James Newton Archives at the Burroughs Home.
Located at 2505 First Street and seated on nearly three acres, the historic home served as the original residence of the prominent Burroughs family and the site of a number of lavish garden parties. The home contains many of the original photographs and furnishings owned by the family, and its grounds encompass a gazebo, grotto, reflecting pool, fountain, and tennis courts. Additionally, its famous tropical garden is home to a lush array of palm trees, elephant ears, and bougainvillea, as well as several other exotic plant species.
The Uncommon Friends Foundation facilitates tours of this historic residence every Wednesday and Thursday at 11 am. Although tours do not require reservations, groups larger than four may schedule additional days and times. Guests may also contact the Burroughs Home & Gardens in advance to make reservations for lunch on the home’s elegant dance porch.
The Uncommon Friends Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of character development, business ethics, and historic preservation. Established in 1993 in Fort Myers, Florida, the foundation aims to continue the legacy of the Uncommon Friends, a group of 20th-century visionaries that included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh. In carrying on the adventurous spirit, positive values, and purpose-driven outlook of the original fellowship, the Uncommon Friends Foundation focuses its historic initiatives on the Burroughs Home and the James Newton Archives housed within it.
James Newton, a Fort Myers Beach author and businessman, enjoyed lasting comradery with the extraordinary men whom he referred to as his “Uncommon Friends.” To honor this legacy, the Uncommon Friends Foundation recently established the Walk of Friendship at the Burroughs Home. Composed of personally dedicated paving stones, the walkway will eventually lead to the Gaile McBride Pavilion, a venue that will host meetings, events, and character education classes sponsored by the organization.
The first paving stone on the Walk of Friendship is dedicated to Bernese B. Davis, a friend of Thomas and Mina Edison and one of the organization’s founding board members. Donors may purchase one engraved paving stone for $300 or two for $500, and they may choose to honor individuals or organizations. All proceeds will benefit the foundation’s future character-building and ethics education programs at the new pavilion.